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2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC review: First drive

The Good

  • Excellent refinement
  • More torque than its rivals
  • Cheap to run (for now)

The Bad

  • Diesel future uncertain
  • Divisive looks

The 2018 Honda Civic now has a diesel, which has been redesigned. But is the 1.6 i-DTEC any good and does it make financial sense to go for with diesel demonisation in full swing? We headed to Rome to find out.

As hatchbacks go, the latest Honda Civic is one of the best around. Its cavernous boot, civilized road manners and, if you go for the Type R, absurd performance, make it rather easy to recommend. If you can cope with the fact it looks like a Transformer, that is.

Until recently, though, the 2018 Civic had an obvious weakness – and that was the lack of a diesel. Its predecessor had one, but luckily Honda has rectified the situation with a heavily revised version of the 1.6 i-DTEC found in the CR-V and HR-V.

Recombu Cars boarded a jet to Rome for a one-day drive of the new engine. Here’s what you need to know, including fuel economy, CO2 emissions and whether it can compete with its rivals.

2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC review: How does the diesel perform?

2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC diesel from the front on-road

To be honest, the idea of a Civic diesel made us dry heave. Yet about two minutes into the drive, we ended up being impressed. Honda’s engineering magic has resulted in a competitive diesel offering that you could – shock horror – easily live with.

Even at full whack, the engine noise is only moderately noticeable and never sounds anything but refined (for a diesel). The spacious cabin does a great job of keeping things quiet to the point that we struggled to hear it at all when keeping the revs low.

2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC diesel interior and infotainment

You get a sizable dollop of performance, too, that means you rarely need to rev it hard. Most of its rivals offer 184lb/ft (250Nm) at peak, but the 118bhp 1.6 i-DTEC makes 221lb/ft (300Nm). Overtaking is, therefore, a doddle despite the fact you have less power on tap than the 127bhp 1.0-litre petrol.

Also impressive is the fact the new Civic diesel avoids affecting the balance of the car. It is as light on its feet and as poised as the petrols, making it a very palatable engine choice. Having such a solid six-speed gearbox plays a role in this, of course, as does the direct steering and capable suspension setup.

2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC review: What about running costs?

2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine bay

With CO2 emissions at 93g/km, taxing the 2018 Civic 1.6 i-DTEC in the first year and the benefit in kind (BIK) for business users works out cheap. That makes it competitive with rivals such as the VW Golf, Renault Megane and Seat Leon, all of which are hard to fault.

The same can be said for its fuel economy figures, too, at 80.7mpg combined. We saw 50mpg even with some rather heavy-footed driving, which bodes well for whether it can get near that claimed figure but we will only know after a lengthier drive in the UK.

2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC diesel steering wheel

Being the least powerful engine in the Civic range, you would expect it to be relatively inexpensive. The fact it costs only £1,300 more than the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol is a big plus, as it will take a relatively short time to see a return on that extra outlay if you do a lot of miles.

In finance land, you should see the Civic diesel cost around £250 on a three-year plan with around six per cent interest, £50 more than the 1.0-litre petrol equivalent.

2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC review: Should I buy one, then?

2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC diesel rear light

With diesels being hit attacked by the UK government, there is something to be said for considering petrol, hybrid or electric motoring. But in the short-term, a clean and efficient diesel is hard to fault and the 2018 Civic’s like the 1.6 i-DTEC is excellent.

At no point did we mind driving along with a diesel under the bonnet and at no point did we find the way it drove offensive. If you like the new Civic and want to keep your fuel bills down, this could be the engine for you.


Engine1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel
Power119bhp at 4,000rpm
Torque221lb/ft (300Nm) at 2,000rpm
Acceleration0-62mph in 9.8 seconds
Top speed125mph
Emissions93g/km of CO2
Economy80.7mpg (combined)
PriceFrom £20,120


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